At the end of last year, I had the opportunity to help celebrate two very special programs sponsored by Southwest Airlines. In 2017, Southwest Airlines celebrated the 10th anniversary of its Medical Transportation Grant Program and the 20th anniversary of its Adopt-A-Pilot program. Both programs celebrate children and there is no better way to bring these two events together than to create an incredible day for some amazing kids at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®!
By volunteering for the Adopt-A-Pilot program over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to mentor many fifth grade students in their classrooms. As Pilots, we help educate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related topics. These include basic aerodynamics and helping students apply their math, geography, and science studies to real-life applications. Through the program, we encourage students to set a goal and have the tenacity and fearlessness to attain it. We advocate the core values of being kind, grateful, and honest. We also look to encourage leadership, honesty, and kindness.
I was thrilled to recently visit the children at St. Jude and share some of our Adopt-A-Pilot classroom activities with them! Along with other Adopt-A-Pilot Ambassadors, I visited with the children and led activities like arts and crafts where we constructed small airplanes and even had fun in a photo booth. There was also an indoor mock runway where we launched the paper airplanes. The kids were especially excited to have every imaginable question about airplanes answered by actual Pilots! It was wonderful to show support to St. Jude, who Southwest Airlines proudly supports by providing complimentary, roundtrip tickets for their patients and their families through our Medical Transportation Grant Program.
This day was truly intended to inspire and celebrate these children and while we accomplished that goal, the children in attendance also inspired us with their tenacity and constant courage. I am extremely honored to work for a Company that has such a big Heart and sponsors programs that have such a positive impact on the lives of children.
All photos provided were courtesy of St. Jude
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Southwest Airlines is proud to celebrate Women’s History Month. We are passionate about empowering women all year long. Below is a post by Captain Nancy Martin-Belitz about how she empowers youth, and how she inspires those in her community.
Nancy in a Fall Travel Ad
Amelia Earhart tells us the most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. You can do anything you decide to do. Growing up, my father's business was next to the airport where I spent much of my time. I was deeply intrigued by the planes that flew overhead and knew that someday I wanted to join the ranks in the sky. As I worked towards my dream job, my love for flying intensified; this propelled my motivation to accomplish what I had set out to achieve.
Although flying is my passion, I also enjoy mentoring. I am grateful for Adopt-A-Pilot giving me the opportunity to fulfill this role. Not all of the students I mentor will go on to become pilots, so I try to emphasize the most important lesson of them all, being a good person with strong core values. I try to instill honesty and kindness in the hearts of the children I meet, hoping they will see the importance of open-mindedness and how it can affect their future. With unwavering tenacity and perseverance, they can achieve any career goal that they set their mind to.
My favorite thing about Adopt-A-Pilot is seeing the impact this program has on the children. I love returning to the schools, where my former students share stories about how the program has influenced their paths. One meaningful moment was walking through the airport, where I ran into another female pilot that flies for a regional airline. She told me that I had taught her 5 th grade class through Adopt-A-Pilot.
I tell others to chase their dream, knowing that it is not out of the question, and always attainable, you just have to first make the decision to act upon it. I say this; because it is something I did myself.
Nancy Martin-Belitz has been an integral part of Southwest Airlines’ Adopt-A-Pilot program since 1997.
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